City Food – Banoffee Pie, The Big Chill Café
The best pie.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
You can have the world’s best banoffee pie only in Delhi. And in Delhi you can have it only in the much-loved The Big Chill chain of cafes.
And the best person in the capital to talk about the Big Chill’s banoffee pie happens to be a very well traveled difficult-to-please woman who takes no less than an hour to finish a ridiculously narrow wedge of this dessert – she has that much love and respect for the pie.
“The cult status of The Big Chill itself has no effect on me – I rarely eat anything else there – but their version of this pie is outstanding,” declares Sanchita Guha, a writer who looks too slim to have a sweet tooth. “I usually come to Big Chill with one particular friend, though I have also come alone for the pie.”
Invented in England in 1971, this dessert is a multistory structure of banana, toffee and cream made to stand on a super-crumbly biscuit base. It appears in many Delhi restaurants and is delicious in almost all of those places as long as one resists thinking of the version made at The Big Chill.
“What is special about the Big Chill banoffee is that the pie consistency and balance of sweetness is exactly right every time, and the layer of cream on top is always fresh,” says Ms Guha. “I have had other banoffee pies that tasted good but were too runny, or those that looked fine, but were too sweet or sticky or had a tart base that was too hard.”
To be honest, Ms Guha did talk of rare instances when she didn’t enjoy the Big Chill pie as much as she would have hoped.
The exacting critic says – “While the quality of the Big Chill banoffee pie is consistent, I have found that it tastes slightly different at different times. But this is to do with me, not with the recipe. The best time to have the pie, for me, is when the last meal was several hours ago. If I have just eaten something, the pie doesn’t taste that great. So, for dos and don’ts, I would say, do have the banoffee pie by itself, not as dessert after a meal; and don’t wolf it down in a rush, as it ought to be eaten slowly and in small spoonfuls.”
And it ought to be eaten at least seven times a week.
Price 200 rupees Where Big Chill cafes are in Khan Market, Kailash Colony and in a few other places Time Noon to 11 pm
Worth living for
1a (The Big Chill, Khan Market).